The brief: An older couple want a relaxing week-long holiday to Malta, taking in major sites, and a day trip to Gozo. Their budget is £1,500.

Verdict: There was plenty of suitable product for this client, but the winning agent was able to decipher exactly what the customer wanted.

Thomas Cook, 4 St Peter’s Street, HerefordThomas Cook

4 St Peter’s Street
Score:
32%

The visit lasted seven minutes and I left feeling undervalued, althought the consultant was polite. She didn’t try to discover what sort of holiday I was looking for, the search was simply done on destination, dates and budget.

The consultant got a Sunset Summersun brochure, wrote down the prices and closed the meeting by handing me the brochure with the instruction to show it to my husband, after I said I wanted to discuss the holiday with him. Quotes included £932 at Clover Holiday Complex in Qawra.

She gave me her name and took down my email address incorrectly. There were two other members of staff in the shop who, at one stage, appeared to be laughing behind their computers, which made me feel uncomfortable.

Allseasons Travel, 48 Eign Gate, Hereford Allseasons Travel

48 Eign Gate
Score:
60%

The interior of the shop looked a little run down, with yellowish walls and framed resort photos that looked like they hadn’t bothered to hang them properly on the walls.

Although the consultant was patient and friendly, she gave me so much information I felt overloaded and kept asking to be reminded which print out was for which resort. I felt she was pulling suggestions out of a hat and seeing which ones stuck.

She told me Malta was a ‘Marmite’ destination, saying a lot of people didn’t go back there. I liked the branch because it wasn’t an average-looking shop and the staff were quirky. Quotes included £979 at the Plaza Hotel, Sliema with Cosmos.

First Choice, 1-2 St Peter’s Street, HerefordFirst Choice

1-2 St Peter’s Street
Score:
68%

As well as dealing with my enquiry, the consultant here was dealing with a customer at the bureau de change, the computer slowing down and the printer not working.

To her credit, she didn’t show she was stressed, but it didn’t feel like she was giving my enquiry her full attention. She left me alone twice with a brochure while she dealt with something else. There was another consultant in the shop, but she was also serving.

The consultant didn’t appear to have much knowledge of Malta, apart from what was written in brochures. The quote she gave me was for seen nights at the Hotel Riu Seabank for £1,058 from the Skytours brochure. 

Thomson, 6 High Street, Hereford Thomson

6 High Street
Score:
96%

As soon as I was acknowledged, the phone rang and the consultant apologised, saying “I must take this”. When she started the consultation, she was able to gauge our needs accurately.

One of her first questions was: “What three things are most important to you in a holiday?” She spoke enthusiastically about the destination, and had lots of local knowledge about excursions, such as boat trips, myths and legends and churches, and Gozo and Comino. The consultant also mentioned car hire and asked about insurance.

Quotes included £1,090 staying at the Mediterranea Hotel with Thomson. Apart from Thomas Cook, this was the shortest visit because the consultant whittled down the options immediately and got the relevant information at the start.

Winning agent: Lindsey Lewis, travel adviser

“I’ve been to Malta and my husband does a lot of diving so he has been a few times. This means we know the area well. When a customer comes in, I always try to relate to them and not just talk to them as a sales person, particularly if it is an area I know lots about. I was very pleased to win.”

Tips: Selling Malta

  1. There are three islands that make up the destination: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta is the biggest and the capital is Valletta which is becoming more popular as a stand-alone short break.
  2. It has a warm, dry Mediterranean climate with mild winters, so it’s good to sell all year round.
  3. Although Malta has a reputation as a destination that is more popular with older clients, the islands are becoming more cosmopolitan and are
    trying to appeal to younger clients with a number of music festivals. It also looking to widen its  appeal to families. 
  4. Air Malta offers daily flights from Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow, and there are also flights from other regional airports. Other carriers include easyJet. The flight takes three hours.
  5. For more information on hotels and resorts in Malta, subscribe to Gazetteers.com.